Middle ground to victory unlikely in Afghanistan

David Cloud, Politico:

The Obama administration fears getting bogged down in a bloody and inconclusive war in Afghanistan and Pakistan — but it also fears walking away from the region.

So its new strategy, which President Barack Obama announced Friday at the White House, is a careful middle course that seeks to avoid both of these unacceptable outcomes.

It keeps the U.S. committed but not too committed.

It doesn’t promise fast results or sweeping achievements, like defeating the Taliban insurgency or quickly bringing security to the Afghan people.

It seeks to draw allies into the effort but doesn’t greatly expand the U.S. footprint, though Obama will announce he is sending 4,000 more troops, several hundred civilian reconstruction experts, and $1.5 billion in additional economic aid to Pakistan.

And it will contain benchmarks that give Obama a chance to review the strategy at regular intervals to decide whether it is working.

The question that arises is whether in trying to keep the U.S. commitment limited, the White House is making it that much harder for the new strategy to work.

By giving the commanders fewer troops than they requested Obama insures that the war will last longer. His "benchmarks" are his built in excuses for quitting. They show a lack of commitment to victory.

I expect to see an increased tempo by the enemy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I think the human bomb attack in the mosque today is a part of that increased tempo timed to suck news cameras away from the Obama announcement.

Obama is taking the LBJ approach to war decisions giving only a portion of what is needed and having to revisit the decision a few months later.

Michael Yon
is also disappointed by the decision.


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